Introduction to School-based Assessment

International Practice in School-based Assessment

School-based assessment (SBA) is policy-supported practice in an increasing number of educational systems around the world, including those of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom. It is increasingly being adopted as national educational policy in Asia as well as in some developing countries, including Ghana and Zambia. It is also actively promoted in the USA, although always overshadowed by national testing programs.

  • Africa
    Africa School-based assessment is also increasingly seen as a valuable tool for South Africa and other southern African nations such as Ghana and Zambia.

  • Australia
    School-based assessment has been established practice in Australia for over twenty years. In Queensland, where SBA was introduced in the 1970s, teacher-based assessment is used for all assessment in secondary school, even for high-stakes purposes. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) also uses only school-based assessment for senior secondary level. Other states such as New South Wales and Victoria have incorporated large scale school-based assessment into their public examinations.

  • Canada
    School-based assessment has been the standard mode of assessment in Canadian schools for many years with teachers taking responsibility for all assessment processes and judgments at the school-level. For an example see the work on school based assessment in Saskatchewan.

  • England
    In England, school-based assessment has also been implemented for a long time. The Assessment Reform Group led by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam of King's College London, has been a powerful influence on assessment for learning, with their work being widely promoted by the Hong Kong Education Bureau.

  • Northern Ireland
    In Northern Ireland there is a strong policy commitment to school-based assessment and assessment for learning.

  • New Zealand
    New Zealand also has a long history of school-based assessment in senior secondary school, and has developed a wide variety of teacher support materials and associated research studies.

  • Scotland
    In Scotland much interesting work on teacher-based assessment is being conducted by the Scottish 'Assessment is for Learning (AIfL)' group, supported by the Ministry of Education in Scotland and involving many schools.

  • Scandinavia
    Finland and Sweden both have long-established school-based assessment systems utilizing a wide range of open-ended authentic tasks and challenging classroom-based assignments. Such school-based assessments, embedded in the curriculum, are often cited as an important reason for the high levels of educational achievement in those countries.

  • Singapore
    The Ministry of Education in Singapore has recently adopted an official policy of assessment for learning and is encouraging teachers to experiment with different forms of school-based assessment, though the school system is still dominated by externally-set and assessed examinations.

  • USA
    Many states in the USA have developed and implemented school-based assessments as a supplement to or to complement to national and state standardized testing , e.g. Iowa, although the standing of such assessments in the wider educational community is still low.

Click here to view a discussion of school-based assessment and assessment for learning around the world.

To view Prof Liz Hamp-Lyons, SBA Consultancy Team, The University of Hong Kong, talking about international practice in school-based assessment.